This past weekend we dropped off my four oldest girls at the summer camp they have been attending for the past four years. Even though the youngest of the four has already returned home due to a severe case of homesickness, we naturally still find ourselves with less children in the house than normal. It might be just me, but whenever I go out of the house without all of my children, I feel like I should wear a sign that says, "Wait, these aren't all the children I have! I really have seven!" I especially notice it when I go out with just one or two of the youngest ones. I always feel as if people are looking at me trying to figure out how old I am. Well, during this week every year I feel very self conscious because not all of my brood is around me.
I've noticed other things about this week of separation that seem to come up every year. First off, people think that I am going to have a bit of a vacation because I am down three children. What it really means is that I instantaneously lost 6 of my arms and 3 additional pairs of eyes. They don't stop to think that I am now responsible for ALL of the dishes at every meal, ALL of the laundry and ALL of the childcare. I know, woe is me...I should be responsible for all of this since I am the mother. However, once you have older children, you begin to depend a lot on them to help you to do all of the above mentioned tasks. So much for a vacation.
I have found that there is usually a bit more peace in our house during this week. I believe this happens for two reasons: 1. The mix of kids is different, so the ones that are still here find they have a bit more freedom to do what they want because 2. The older ones aren't here to boss them around so much! While I have lost a lot of my extra help, I find that I have a chance to mother my younger children without their "other mothers" getting to them first.
Overall, I would have to say that this week is something that everyone looks forward to every year. The bigger girls love to get away and have fun for a week, the younger ones love to be without their bossy older sisters for a week, and I enjoy interacting with the younger ones more and doing the laundry for the week!